Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Are we protecting children?

Two stories today about the threats our kids face from drug prohibition exemplify the inevitable consequences of not regulating the market for drugs desired by about 20 million Americans:

The youngest kids: The Milwaukee Journal- Sentinel reports that seven day care centers have been closed down from June 2005 to June 2006 because drugs are being sold or used on the premises. In a recent case involving "A Helping Hand Creative Learning Place,"

When police executed a search warrant at the day care last fall, they found a duffel bag containing 2 pounds of marijuana, a digital scale and a Helping Hand business card.

Upstairs from the day care, where Mosley [a helper at the child care center] and his wife [the proprietor] resided, police found two loaded pistols, $7,000 in cash, three cellular phones and a pager. And Mosley's wife admitted that she knew her husband was selling drugs, records show.

Why don't you find day care centers that also sell jewelry or insurance or whiskey? Because those products can be sold legally and openly.

Prohibition businesses require fronts. A day care center, with a constant flow of young people coming in and going out to drop off or pick up their kids, has great value as a cover for a place that sells prohibited drugs like marijuana.

Undeniably, it is despicable to put kids at risk of firearms injury or death when robbers (or SWAT teams) come to take down your drug business. Federal law provides that whatever punishment one's drug crime carries will be doubled for doing so at a public or private elementary school (21 U.S.C. 860(a)). Whether this offense includes a day care facility is arguable. To use children to avoid detection for a drug offense carries a tripled penalty (21 U.S.C. 860(c)(2)).

In the second instance, teenagers are tempted by the money, excitement and rebellion of the illegal drug trade.

The Wilmington (DE) News-Journal reports on the violence in Wilmington. The headline is a grabber, "Youths fear for their lives in housing project." The murder count is now tied with last year, the most deadly in Wilmington history. Teenagers fear being shot on the street. Others are tempted by the drug trade.

Jea Street, executive director of the Hilltop Lutheran Neighborhood Center, said he loses children to the streets all the time.

"When the kids turn 12 or 13, I'm in immediate competition for their destiny with the drug dealers, who give them a lot of money and ask for very little, while we can only give them a safe haven and some hope for the future."

Are young teenagers being recruited to enter other businesses? Only minimum wage jobs like retail, fast food, or mowing lawns, or slightly better jobs such as life guard.

Prohibition profits offers a mediocre or unmotivated student an easy justification for dropping out of school.

Too bad Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) doesn't see the connections.

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